Public Lecture Series on the Representation of Disability in Literature

Posted on: 15 January 2014

How disability is represented in children’s literature was explored at a public talk in Trinity College Dublin. The talk was the first in a series of seven free public talks which will focus on how disability has been written about in national and international literature.

Organised by Trinity’s School of English in conjunction with Trinity’s M.Sc. in Disability Studies, the Disability and Literature lecture series will feature contributions from Trinity academics from the School of English and the National Institute for Intellectual Disability (School of Social Work and Social Policy) as well as the Centre for Deaf Studies.  The series will also include speakers from key organisations including the Disability Federation of Ireland, Arts & Disability Ireland and from the field of the contemporary arts.

The series began with a talk on Monday, January 13th entitled Children’s Literature and Disability with contributions from children’s author and former Laureate na nÓg Siobhan Parkinson, Dr Amanda Piesse, Associate Professor in English, Trinity, and Audrey Baker, St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra.

Other lectures in the series include talks on the representation of disability in war writing, deaf people and literature as well as talks on the representation of disability in the works of several well-known writers including Charles Dickens and Christy Brown. The closing talk on Monday, February 28th will feature readings by contemporary disabled Irish artists.  All talks will be signed by an ISL interpreter.

Speaking about the lecture series, Dr Paul Delaney, Assistant Professor in English, commented: “In Irish and international literature disability is typically represented in terms of shame, punishment, evil, lack or pity and it is unusual for the main character to be a person with disabilities. However, more than one billion people currently live with disability around the world and their representation has a critical impact on their stigma and marginalisation. This series will explore some of these traditional patterns of representation.  It will also engage with positive images of disabled people in literature, by disabled and non-disabled writers. By exploring how disability is represented in literature and by analysing works by disabled and non-disabled writers the series seeks to place issues of disability and writing central stage.”

The Disability and Literature lecture series is co-hosted by the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts & Humanities Research Institute and is supported by Arts & Disability Ireland. It is related to Trinity’s research theme on ‘Identities in Transformation’.

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Fiona Tyrrell, Press Officer for the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Trinity College Dublin | | + 353 1 8964337